Watch the Video: Billionaires Chained to Main Entrance of Citi HQ

Written by Nell Greenberg

Topics: Coal, Finance

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Check out this video from yesterday’s ‘Billionaires for Dirty Energy’ action. More than 30 people donned their Billionaire best and blockaded the main entrance at Citi’s NYC headquarters. I guess even those more interested in money than climate change feel coal is just too risky.

13 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. john says:

    haha priceless

  2. Shawn Sargent says:

    Good show Protest and Survive
    Thankyou RAN for spreading the message, promoting peaceful protest, and making the statements that need to be heard around the World.

  3. Jill says:

    Great protest!! You kids have guts!! It’s what it takes to get peoples’ attention though!! Hopefully, someone at least thought twice about the subject!

  4. celticsolar says:

    what happened to the two arrested billionaires?

  5. Stephen Koermer says:

    Nice idea. Very poor implementation ==> the protesters should not only be more knowledgeable about the coal power generation industry; i.e, its upstream and downstream impacts, financing, etc., but far more fluent in communicating what is at stake if this nation and the world’s people continues its reliance on the most dirty of fossil fuels. This requires considerable work and practice, but should really constitute a prerequisite before inserting oneself into this particular protest domain or sphere.

  6. Luke says:

    Stephen: I’m pretty sure that most of these activists have a firm grasp of why coal is bad. Spouting statistics to people on the street in not usually an effective strategy, however. This action was effective because it was simple, witty, and strategically targeted as part of a campaign against Citi.

  7. Robin says:

    Just a quick note on the arrested billionaires. They were released in under an hour and face only very minor charges. In my opinion the NYPD handled the protest in a reasonable and measured way.

  8. Stephen Koermer says:

    Luke, you are right. With respect to this organized effort, it is presumptuous of me to assert an understanding of the protesters’ knowledge about the coal industry.

    The genesis of the argument that comprises my former post emanated from a more visceral response to the actors’ apparent knowledge of their subject, and the level of polish their roles exhibit, as captured on film. In short, the quality of acting struck me as somewhat amateurish–not that executing such a protest in the wild is demonstrably easy.

    In truth, while I find this form of protest provocative in the abstract, I wonder how effective it really is, considering the limited understanding many Americans have about important environmental issues; the level of complacency that exists among the public to address these issues in positive, humane, and timely ways; the fundamental weight given to private property rights over the commons; and the potential health and safety risks associated with chaining activists to the front doors of major corporate facilities.

    While this intersection of human life and property may evoke images about other forms of slavery past and present within and outside of our nation’s borders, beyond the symbolism, beyond the abstractions, are real safety risks to building occupants when major passageways are obstructed. If a group of untethered protesters are in a street or on a sidewalk, they can usually clear the way within seconds to allow some entity to quickly pass through. But chain people to major entrances and exits of buildings, public or private, . .well, does that not represent another form of “playing with fire”, but in miniature? Burning coal now constitutes a dangerous activity, but what about the execution of certain protest strategies?

    Speaking of fire: please forgive me while I play the devil’s advocate. After having devoted at least a dozen long, hard hours to studying environmental news and related issues over the past seven or so odd years, I too possess a certain sense of humor about our wanton ways as the preeminent species on the block, the new geophysical force, if you will.

  9. Luke says:

    If you watch the video again you’ll notice that the entrance is not completely blocked. I also think that the minor inconvenience and miniscule risk associated with the action are negligible compared to the activities that Citi finances. If you think that blocking a door momentarily is in any way comparable to financing the destruction of humanity’s future while poisoning communities in Appalachia and elsewhere, you are not very “knowledgeable about the coal power generation industry; i.e, its upstream and downstream impacts, financing, etc.”

    The primary goal of actions like this one is not public education of the people walking past on the street as to the problems with financing coal. The audience we’re most interested in is Citi itself, and I’m sure that they got the message. Standing around on the street handing out fliers, which you seem to think is the winning strategy, is not usually so effective. Let me refer you to Frederick Douglass:

    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters … Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

  10. Stephen Koermer - a carbon slave says:

    Luke, I beg your forgiveness, for I am a lowly carbon slave from the gentle state of Wisconsin, a state whose people pride themselves on employing cheesy logic to solve the world’s most challenging problems. For instance, we have an abundance of fresh water here. If you are exceptionally kind to me, and by virtue, the residents of this generous state, I may be able to arrange for the diversion of a nice pint or two of the universal solvent your your way. I have found that there is nothing like a little splash of cold water in the morning to brighten the mind, body, and soul. It is, after all, the sooty soul of a new machine that you converse with, poisoned from head to toe.

  11. Luke says:

    Our environmental problems are not the result of a lack of logic, but rather a lack of will. Being exceptionally nice to Citi and Bank of America will not convince them to stop making money hand over fist off of their dirty energy portfolio. Fundamental, structural change to our economy is what’s required.

    Once water becomes an even more precious commodity, maybe Citi will finance a water pipeline to drain those lakes of yours and ship it to wherever the rich people are … I’m guessing Dubai. Try logic on them then.

  12. Stephen Koermer - a carbon slave says:

    Now that was an exceptional response! Maude Barlow does a commendable job mapping out the global water crisis in her latest book titled “Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water” (C2007). Highly recommended.

    Speaking of fresh water, check out a truncated version (my mod) of the email message I just received from Kerry Schumann, Executive Director of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters:

    From – Thu Apr 10 17:19:28 2008
    Subject: An Inside Update on the Great Lakes Compact
    Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2008 17:06:06 -0500


    Here’s the inside scoop:

    Yesterday, we joined Governor Doyle, Senator Miller, Representative Gunderson and many other legislators in New Berlin to announce that they have reached an agreement on the Great Lakes Compact. We don’t have the
    exact bill language yet, but it looks like almost every thing we asked for will be included in the bill. We are feeling very optimistic – and thankful to the legislators who fought with us for not just a Great Lakes Compact, but a Strong Great Lakes Compact.

    I really want to thank you for all that you’ve done to bring us to this day – from your financial support to the time you’ve spent contacting your legislators and the Governor.

    I’m looking forward to inviting all of you to a victory party in the upcoming weeks!


    Now who can surmise, after examining the above text, that the gentle cheeseheads of Wisconsin aren’t willing to postpone immediate gratification for the better interests of future generations of thirsty citizens, by signing on to a regional pact that ensures a great big slice of the watery world is reserved for the final drawdown. All aboard?

  13. Luke says:

    Check this out:

    Tar sands crude not so green

    Tar sands is bad news. The oil is much dirtier and requires more processing, and the refineries will be discharging into the Great Lakes system. I’m not sure about the finance angle, but RAN will be campaigning on tar sands issues sometime very soon. Local organizing is going to be crucial.

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